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Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
I got a BodyMedia device at the beginning of Nov. 2010. I've been wearing it nearly constantly since then, and the information it gives me has been very satisfying for my obsessive-compulsive monitoring of my fitness.

Background on the device: the sensor is on an armband that you wear on your left tricep. It has an accelerometer to measure motion, a skin conductance sensor (for heart rate, I believe), a sensor to measure skin temperature, and a sensor to measure heat flux. The program digests all this information and gives you how many calories you're burning per minute, which it will then sum throughout the day. So far, I've been impressed with the device, although it obviously cannot be perfect.

Background on me: I'm 37 years old, female, 5 ft 3 in, and about 114 lbs. I've been working out on some variation of P90X, Insanity, P90X+, or similar for about 2 years; prior to that I did other workout programs. Besides working out with a traditional workout each morning, I play tennis or do some other type of cardio activity 4 - 5 afternoons/week. I'm in pretty good shape.

The measurements: I have been recording the amount of calories I burn per workout, and now I list that below. My motivation for this is that the question of "How much do I burn in a workout?" is always asked. The FAQ answer of about 600 calories cannot apply to everyone; a small woman like me would have a lot of trouble burning that much in less than an hour.

P90X
Legs & Back: 255 cal (1 measurement)
Ab Ripper X (done right after Legs & Back): 60 cal (1 measurement)
Chest & Back: 240 cal (1 measurement)
Shoulders & Arms: 259 cal (1 measurement)
Back & Biceps: 235 cal (average of 2 measurements)
Chest, Shoulders & Triceps: 255 cal (average of 2 measurements)
Core Synergistics: 239 cal (1 measurement)

Insanity
Plyo Cardio Circuit: 266 cal (average of 4 measurements)
Cardio Power & Resistance: 222 cal (1 measurement)
Pure Cardio: 248 cal (1 measurement)
Core Cardio & Balance: 196 cal (average of 2 measurements)
Max Cardio Conditioning: 267 cal (1 measurement)

P90X+ (This is the program I'm doing now.)
Upper Body Plus: 174 cal (average of 6 measurements)
Abs/Core Plus (done right after Upper Body Plus): 100 cal (average of 6 measurements)
Interval X Plus: 274 cal (average of 4 measurements)
Total Body Plus: 212 cal (average of 4 measurements)
Kenpo Cardio Plus: 285 cal (average of 2 measurements)

Cathe Friedrich workouts
4 Day Split, Kickbox-only premix: 233 cal (1 measurement)
Shock Cardio HIIT Double Wave Pyramid: 171 cal (1 measurement)
Shock Cardio HIIT 40/20: 174 cal (1 measurement)

Comments:
1. These values should be taken with a grain of salt. I find that if I'm really pushing during a workout, or if I'm being a little lazier, the calorie burn shows it. For example, my 4 measurements for Interval X Plus ranged from 268 cal to 284 cal. Although, some of this could be due to when I "end" the workout and make the reading.

2. In addition, the BodyMedia device cannot be perfect in its calculations of my calorie burn. However, to its credit, I do feel like the calorie burn it reports matches well with the intensity I'm feeling.

3. The amount of calories burned in the resistance workouts (for P90X and P90X+) really scale with time for me, at about 4 cal/min. The workouts that are a little longer (Shoulders & Arms, Legs & Back) burn a little more calories.

4. The same is not true of the cardio workouts, especially within Insanity. Plyo Cardio Circuit is only 3 minutes longer than Cardio Power & Resistance (and Pure Cardio is 1 minute shorter), but it burns quite a few more calories. This fits with how I feel doing the workouts, though: of the three, Cardio Power & Resistance is definitely the easiest. Also, Max Cardio Conditioning is longer than any of those three, but only burns as much as Plyo Cardio Circuit. I feel like the intensity with which you "bring it" matters a lot more in the cardio workouts.

5. Here are some brief tallies of other types of workouts for me. An hour of "cardio tennis", which involves nearly-continuous drills with hitting, running, and sprinting, typically burns 400 - 450 cal. An hour of singles tennis (at 3.0 level) burns 300 - 350 cal. An hour of doubles tennis (at 3.0 level) burns about 200 - 250 cal. An hour of stationary recumbent biking with some HIIT intervals burns 300 - 350 cal. An hour of vacuuming the house burns about 200 cal. If I'm sitting on the couch, I burn about 60 cal/hour.


I hope you all will find this helpful. I will try to update this thread as I make measurements on more workouts.

Melissa
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Thanks for posting this. Many times, people have asked about calorie burns and with out a personalized device, an educated guess is all most of us can work with. This, at least, can give a general idea of what amount a female might burn without having to purchase an additional item.

I, too, am a small gal at 5'2" and 110-114 pounds. I have been active for much of my life with all kinds of exercise. I have been doing P90X since April 2010 and when I first started I ate the recommended 600 additional calories. I started gaining weight and this was after discounting DOMS. I've since cut back to 200-350 additional calories and I am back to my normal self.

Thanks for posting,

Melissa (another one!)
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
1/5/11 11:31 AM as a reply to avondale.
Great post.

I am 5'1 and 115 pounds.

How many calories are you eating in a day?
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
1/6/11 5:14 PM as a reply to turbofiterin.
I'm glad some of you ladies found the information helpful.

I'm eating about 2200 cal/day. I journal my eating pretty carefully. I do have a personal goal to lose about 5 lbs, but it's not urgent. Consequently, I eat 2200 cal even on days when it's not a significant deficit.

An issue I'm still trying to figure out is how to use the BodyMedia device to judge how much to eat. I will burn between 1600 - 3000 cal/day, depending on what I do. I suppose that in order to lose weight reliably, I should eat 500 cal/day less and adjust to what I burn. However, that's hard to do. For one thing, it's hard to tell part way through the day how much I'm going to burn in total for the day. For another thing, eating only perhaps 1100 cal in a day would starve me! (Fortunately those really low days are very infrequent. Unfortunately, they tend to be big-eating days like Christmas and Thanksgiving.)

Right now, I'm trying to make sure I burn at least 2200 cal/day so that I maintain at the very least. Most days that's not an issue, so I figure I should be getting some gradual weight loss. My BodyMedia data show that over the last 28 days (which include Thanksgiving and Christmas with multiple cheat days!) I burned on average 2472 cal/day.

Melissa
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That sounds good.

I am getting a BodyBugg this month so I am SUPER excited to be able to track my calories better through there. I am doing Insanity and currently am eating 1400-1600 calories a day. I have been told to eat 1700, but since I am still trying to lose weight, but tone up, I don't want to risk eating too many which is why I am excited to go off of the Bugg.
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
4/21/11 7:43 PM as a reply to turbofiterin.
Thank you so much for putting this info together. I have a BodyFit device too and am 5'3" 119 lbs. Your data is very similar to mine. I feel better having this verification because I was disappointed my burn was so low compared to everyone else. Now I know I don't just have a defective metabolism! Thanks again! Holli
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
4/22/11 12:27 PM as a reply to Careswell.
You're welcome!

Have you had success using the device to follow a 500 cal/day deficit and lose weight?

I love using the device, but I've been a bit disappointed that when I keep the deficit I'm not losing. There are lots of possible issues that could be the cause: the device isn't totally accurate, but whether it's measuring too high or too low is hard to say; I've been eating at around the same level for so long that my body is used to it, no matter what the deficit is; I'm getting low enough in weight that my body's starting to resist losing more.

I have suspected the second issue. I'm currently following a zig-zag diet that has me averaging around 2200 cal/day (not counting a cheat day), but ranges from 1800 - 2500 cal/day. That gives me an average deficit of 400-500 cal/day, but some days the individual deficit is really high, and sometimes it's basically zero. At any rate, I think it's helping, although it's too soon to be absolutely sure.

I was curious about your experience with it.

Melissa
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
8/29/12 12:24 PM as a reply to avondale.
Hello!

Thank you so much for your post! It really helps me in tracking calories since I am also a small female (5'2'' 111 lbs) and I know I am not burning 600 calories a wrokout (I wish though!) I am a 19 year old active girl and have followed p90x workout religiously for the last 4 months and currently still am. Although I am a music major in college, I workout 6 days a week and do a combination of interval sprint training, p90x and spin classes given at my gym. I also participate in local 5ks and 10ks frequently. I am eating an average of 1800 calories a day, without factoring in the calories I am burning. Taking my age into consideration as well, I am concerned that this may be a bit low, but I am so close to toning up the last sections of my body that I don't want to put on any weight so I am unsure as to increase my calorie intake. Do you think that my caloric deficit may be effecting my results? It's taken me a very long time to get to where I am now, but I know that you don't and won't get fit overnight. Still, I think maybe my calories or calculations may be hindering my speed in successfully toning up the last few sections of my abs/hips. Since you have a very similar body type to me and seem very fit I thought you may be able to help me and give me some advice. Thank you!
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
8/29/12 7:38 PM as a reply to llucerne.
llucerne:
Hello!

Thank you so much for your post! It really helps me in tracking calories since I am also a small female (5'2'' 111 lbs) and I know I am not burning 600 calories a wrokout (I wish though!) I am a 19 year old active girl and have followed p90x workout religiously for the last 4 months and currently still am. Although I am a music major in college, I workout 6 days a week and do a combination of interval sprint training, p90x and spin classes given at my gym. I also participate in local 5ks and 10ks frequently. I am eating an average of 1800 calories a day, without factoring in the calories I am burning. Taking my age into consideration as well, I am concerned that this may be a bit low, but I am so close to toning up the last sections of my body that I don't want to put on any weight so I am unsure as to increase my calorie intake. Do you think that my caloric deficit may be effecting my results? It's taken me a very long time to get to where I am now, but I know that you don't and won't get fit overnight. Still, I think maybe my calories or calculations may be hindering my speed in successfully toning up the last few sections of my abs/hips. Since you have a very similar body type to me and seem very fit I thought you may be able to help me and give me some advice. Thank you!


Unfortunately, I can't give you any great suggestions. I'm also very active (continue to be since the original post), which makes it really hard to estimate how many calories to take in. Is fatigue from under-eating or just being active?

The best thing to do is experiment...go up by 200 - 300 cal/day for a few weeks and see how you feel. If you need the calories, you might get an initial bump in weight gain, but it shouldn't continue. If you feel more energized, that would be a good sign.

I doubt that you're WAY under-eating, but perhaps enough to affect performance. If you're looking to maintain weight but gain muscle/lose fat, you may want to eat more.

I'm also trying to lose that last bit of body fat, after having put on some muscle. I'm currently zig-zagging a bit: 1700 cal, 1700 cal, 2100 cal, 1700 cal, 2000 cal, 2000 cal, 2500 cal. You might experiment with that, too.

I love my BodyMedia device, but I don't think it's as useful for those "last few pounds" as it is for someone way overweight. I almost always have a 500+cal deficit in a day, but I'm not seeing weight loss. Possibly fat loss, but it's slow.

I'm glad the original post was helpful.

While I'm posting, I'll mention that I've done Asylum and P90X2 now. The Asylum workouts have a bit of a range...about 180 cal for Back to Core, 220ish cal for Vertical Plyo and Strength, about 280 cal for Speed & Agility, and about 350 cal for Game Day. The P90X2 workouts are similar to P90X, ranging between 200 - 250 cal for me.

Melissa
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RE: Measurement of Calories Burned per Workout for Small Woman
8/31/12 12:05 PM as a reply to avondale.
avondale:
llucerne:
Hello!

Thank you so much for your post! It really helps me in tracking calories since I am also a small female (5'2'' 111 lbs) and I know I am not burning 600 calories a wrokout (I wish though!) I am a 19 year old active girl and have followed p90x workout religiously for the last 4 months and currently still am. Although I am a music major in college, I workout 6 days a week and do a combination of interval sprint training, p90x and spin classes given at my gym. I also participate in local 5ks and 10ks frequently. I am eating an average of 1800 calories a day, without factoring in the calories I am burning. Taking my age into consideration as well, I am concerned that this may be a bit low, but I am so close to toning up the last sections of my body that I don't want to put on any weight so I am unsure as to increase my calorie intake. Do you think that my caloric deficit may be effecting my results? It's taken me a very long time to get to where I am now, but I know that you don't and won't get fit overnight. Still, I think maybe my calories or calculations may be hindering my speed in successfully toning up the last few sections of my abs/hips. Since you have a very similar body type to me and seem very fit I thought you may be able to help me and give me some advice. Thank you!


Unfortunately, I can't give you any great suggestions. I'm also very active (continue to be since the original post), which makes it really hard to estimate how many calories to take in. Is fatigue from under-eating or just being active?

The best thing to do is experiment...go up by 200 - 300 cal/day for a few weeks and see how you feel. If you need the calories, you might get an initial bump in weight gain, but it shouldn't continue. If you feel more energized, that would be a good sign.

I doubt that you're WAY under-eating, but perhaps enough to affect performance. If you're looking to maintain weight but gain muscle/lose fat, you may want to eat more.

I'm also trying to lose that last bit of body fat, after having put on some muscle. I'm currently zig-zagging a bit: 1700 cal, 1700 cal, 2100 cal, 1700 cal, 2000 cal, 2000 cal, 2500 cal. You might experiment with that, too.

I love my BodyMedia device, but I don't think it's as useful for those "last few pounds" as it is for someone way overweight. I almost always have a 500+cal deficit in a day, but I'm not seeing weight loss. Possibly fat loss, but it's slow.

I'm glad the original post was helpful.

While I'm posting, I'll mention that I've done Asylum and P90X2 now. The Asylum workouts have a bit of a range...about 180 cal for Back to Core, 220ish cal for Vertical Plyo and Strength, about 280 cal for Speed & Agility, and about 350 cal for Game Day. The P90X2 workouts are similar to P90X, ranging between 200 - 250 cal for me.

Melissa


Melissa,

Thank you so much! Yes I agree, I doubt that I am undereating, but it is good to probably vary my calorie intake. Thanks for your post on the p90x 2 disc as well. My fat loss does seem to be slow, too. In my opinion, it sounds to me like your fat loss may be the type of fat necessary for our bodies to have. I think it will eventually come off, but it might just be slower than all of the other fat loss that we've seen. Just a hypothesis though emoticon
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